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Rubio falters in 'Tonight Show' hot seat

The Florida senator stumbled in his attempt to humanize his ambition, and his boots.
Senator Marco Rubio laughs during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Jan. 21, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Lipovsky/NBC)
Senator Marco Rubio laughs during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Jan. 21, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" Thursday, working hard to humanize his ambition and those much talked about boots.

But The Roots’ riff off Phil Collins’ "Sussudio" – Ru-Ru-Rubio – was perhaps the only effortlessly entertaining moment of the segment; Rubio’s forced smile, voting plea and Plan B if he doesn't win the presidency laid bare his blunt ambition and an uneasiness in the comedy hot seat.

“That’s why I’m on the show tonight,” he said directly when asked about his strategy to win the nomination. “If you live in New Hampshire or Iowa, please vote for Marco Rubio!”

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Asked if he’d consider being the vice president if he didn’t win the nomination, Rubio quickly answered no, before joking – we think – that he’d rather be the NFL commissioner. 

“I’m serious, that’s a good job, you have a lot of power in that job,” he said. “You get to suspend people.” 

Charming stories about his family life were often delivered with an uncomfortable punch line. After proposing to his wife, Jeanette, at the top of the Empire State Building, he told Fallon he “grabbed the ring back" for fear they'd drop it over the side of the building.

When Fallon praised Rubio's much-discussed Cuban-heeled boots from the campaign trail, the candidate assumed the remarks were mocking until Fallon insisted that while he is indeed an earnest fan of the footwear, he is also tired of talking about them. 

Appearing on "The Tonight Show" has become a regular stop on the campaign trail. Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both appeared, and several candidates have even gotten in on the comedy: Carly Fiorina sang a song about her dogs, and Donald Trump talked to a Fallon-portrayed version of himself in the mirror.

Fallon's monologue of course tackled political topics before Rubio came out, including jokes about why it takes Sanders such a long time to do his grocery shopping: "He usually stops for an hour to yell at the one-percent milk."